Newsletter, May 7, 2020
“The glory of God is ‘humankind’ fully alive” – St. Iraneus
The tragedy of this pandemic has gifted me with opportunities to connect with a variety of people in ways, I think, otherwise would not have happened.
One such occasion was a Zoom meeting I had with 25 Confirmation students who have spent the last two years preparing for this sacrament, only to have the celebration conferring the sacrament indefinitely postponed. They were to have celebrated this graced occasion this past Saturday, May 2, at the 4pm Mass. And so, on Saturday, we reached out to these remarkable young people via ZOOM to see how they were faring in the midst of this life-altering time.
The students, all sophomores in high schools throughout the city, were honestly reflective as they responded to my inquiry as to how they were doing in this hard time of sheltering in place. Their conversation was somber as they expressed how much they missed school, friends, sports, and other family members they cannot see or visit.
The discussion then shifted to ways in which they think they will be changed in light of the reality they are living in this pandemic. Many of the students spoke about their increased appreciation of family, friends, their schools, their freedom, and so much more. They voiced their increasing gratitude for the gift of their lives.
Many recognized the suffering of countless others. “You just can’t know what others are going through,” a student observed, after which all expressed a desire to become more compassionate in their encounters with others – to become more attentive, more kind, thoughtful, and helpful – all virtues that are other centered and gifts to humanity.
These high school sophomores are being shaped by this pandemic. And even in their sadness and struggles, they are growing in surprising and beautiful ways. Their faith is being nourished even though they cannot go to church and physically pray with their faith community.
COVID-19 is having an impact on everyone; some are sick and dying and many of us are looking inside ourselves, re-assessing how to live with ourselves and one another. For myself, I think I am becoming more patient or maybe it is more accurate to say, less impatient with the way things are going forward. So much of what was so very important to me before seems less so in these times. And I’ve become aware of the many who are really trying to do good things in very trying circumstances.
As I walk across the Town, I see so many who are complying with safety guidelines of wearing masks and maintaining safe distances, even parents with their children, and I am amazed at the patience and love I see.
The responsibilities of parenthood have become increasingly more difficult as they incorporate tasks that were primarily the duties of other figures in their children’s lives. Many parents are juggling so much – working at home; caring for their children; home-schooling them; recreating with them; shopping; preparing meals; concerned for elders in their family and more. In the midst of their exhaustion, they are doing their best.
Many in the Town are first responders and health care workers who step out daily to care for others in need. Signs on doorposts around town reflective of the gratitude the community feels, fittingly, call them heroes – as are other workers who are serving the public in other capacities.
Many seniors are forced to live alone without cherished visits from family and friends. They do so with noble and prayerful spirits, appreciating the efforts that are being made by their loved ones to connect with them in some way.
Our Parish has received phone calls and emails from persons who are willing to be of assistance to anyone in need. Our Parish Harvest on Vine emergency food pantry volunteers faithfully show up for each food distribution, serving the increasing numbers of those who live with food insecurity; and the Charlestown community at large has been generous in sending donations to support this essential ministry.
And so, one cannot help but become gratefully aware of the exemplary goodness and vitality of so many who, despite the sadness, grief, and restrictions of these times, are living more fully alive in what matters most.
All over the Town, the city, state, country and beyond, the graced human spirit is shining through. God never abandons us and in ways subtle and profound each of us is being invited to go beyond self and grow in love.
NATIONAL NURSES WEEK – May 6-12, 2020
Gentle God, we come in thanksgiving for the nurses in our midst. You have given them a lofty vocation – to mirror your love and compassion for the sick. When we watch them at work, we sense your presence in their words and deeds.
Compassionate God, we ask you to draw near to these women and men who have given their lives in service to others. Fill their minds and their hearts with your wisdom and mercy that they might truly be your hands and feet in our institutions.
Faithful God, grant them the perseverance and strength needed to do their job well. Loving God, give them courage to speak on behalf of those they serve and advocate for those in greatest need. Comfort them in their sorrows and disappointments, in their losses and worries. Shelter them in times of trial, creating spaces for them to rest and to listen for your voice. Hear us, O God, our strength, and answer our prayer, for you are all good and all kind and never tire of ministering to our needs. Amen.
Matthew plays and sings
Schubert’s Ave Maria
THE MONTH OF MAY IS DEDICATED TO OUR BLESSED MOTHER MARY
The month of May is traditionally dedicated to Our Blessed Mother Mary, a tradition which dates back to over 700 years ago. It is also the month in which we celebrate all mothers on Mother’s Day. It is not clear why the month of May was chosen to honor Mary and why Mother’s Day falls within the month of May. There is a thought that May is a month of growth, when nature is reborn. This month normally belongs to the Easter season, between Easter and Pentecost, a time of Resurrection and a time in which our Church was born.
During the Easter season, Mary’s presence in the beginnings of the Church is emphasized. She was present in the first community of disciples. In Acts 1:14, she was present with the Apostles in the upper room as they prayerfully waited for the descent of the Holy Spirit with hopeful expectation. As Pope St. John Paul II stated in Redemptoris Mater, “Mary was in the Upper Room, where the Apostles were preparing to take up this mission with the coming of the Spirit of Truth: she was present with them. In their midst Mary was “devoted to prayer” as the “mother of Jesus” (cf. Acts 1:13-14), of the Crucified and Risen Christ.” Her maternal presence was humble and discreet but fundamental. Among them, she acted as a guide, an exceptional witness of the mystery of Christ, a role she had since His conception and birth, as well as a model of true faith.
Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI vividly described Mary’s maternal presence among the disciples after Jesus’ Resurrection. He stated:
In the days that followed the Lord’s resurrection, the Apostles stayed together, comforted by Mary’s presence, and after the ascension, they persevered with her in prayerful expectation of Pentecost. Our Lady was a mother and teacher to them, a role that she continues to play for Christians of all times…
The Easter season is a fitting time to recall Mary’s immense joy over her Son’s Resurrection and to rediscover her role as mother and teacher in our lives. Mary has a unique role in the God’s plan of salvation and in the Church. She consented to the coming of the Savior and cooperated in developing His mission. She brought Him into the world, raised Him and lovingly stood by His side during the years of His hidden life. She supported Him during His public ministry in a quiet way, beginning at Cana, where by her intercession Jesus performed His first miracle (John 2:1-12). She cooperated in His work, even uniting her own suffering with that of her Son, standing at the foot of His cross. Mary was Jesus’ first disciple, humbly following Him during every step of His journey and mission. She trusted in God completely and lived by His grace. She is our model of true discipleship and of complete faith.
During the Easter season we are more aware of Mary’s motherly presence and love. It is perhaps for this reason that popular tradition has dedicated the month of May, which falls during this liturgical season, to Our Blessed Mother.
Our Blessed Mother Mary offered the disciples her prayers, motherly care, and witness. She continues to offer us her motherly love and intercession. During this month of May, let us rediscover her maternal role in each of our lives. Let us offer our spiritual mother our sincere prayers, that just as she aided the first Apostles with her prayers, she may also guide and intercede for us in our journey of faith. Let us learn from her how to love and trust God completely and how to be faithful witnesses of the risen Lord. Taken from The Catholic Stand https://www.catholicstand.com/may-the-month-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary/
There are many popular devotions to Our Blessed Mother Mary. For more information about these popular devotions, please visit: http://www.mycatholicsource.com/mcs/pc/the_Blessed_Virgin/popular_marian_devotions.htm
A Short Daily Prayer to Our Mother of Perpetual Help
Mother of Perpetual Help, you have been blessed and favored by God. You became not only the Mother of the Redeemer, but Mother of the redeemed as well.
We come to you today as your loving children. Watch over us and take care of us. As you held the child Jesus in your loving arms, so take us in your arms. Be a mother ready at every moment to help us. For God who is mighty has done great things for you, and God’s mercy is from age to age on those who love God. Amen.
BISHOPS AROUND THE COUNTRY REDEDICATE THE UNITED STATES
TO OUR BLESSED MOTHER, MARY, IN THE MIDST OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
The Catholic Church has a longstanding custom of honoring Our Blessed Mother Mary in a special way during the month of May. Given this tradition, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops chose May 1, to rededicate our Country to the Blessed Mother, the Patroness of the United States, praying for her intercession during this sorrowful and tragic time in our country.
Mary was first given the title of Patroness of the United States when the Bishops unanimously chose her under that title in 1846. In 1792, Bishop John Carroll, the first bishop of the United States, consecrated our nation to Mary under the title Immaculate Conception.
Catholic bishops in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. presided at services asking Mary to intercede for our country and the world in the midst of this pandemic.
Archbishop Gomes from Los Angeles, explained Our Lady’s history in the United States: “The first missionaries came to this country under the mantle of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Later, the bishops consecrated her as patroness of the United States of America. The Virgin Mary has accompanied this great nation since our beginnings. Now in this difficult hour, we renew our consecration to her…Mary was the first person to consecrate herself to Jesus, the first to offer her whole heart to do his will, to set his beautiful plan of redemption We ask God to give us that same faith, that same courage … the strength to follow Jesus, to seek his holiness and his kingdom.”
Archbishop Gregory of Washington, D.C. prayed for Mary’s “intercession for the needs of our country, that every desire for good may be blessed and strengthened, that faith may be revived and nourished, hope sustained and enlightened, charity awakened and animated.”
The Call – George Herbert (1593-1633)
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a Way, as gives us breath:
Such a Truth, as ends all strife:
Such a Life, as killeth death.
Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a Light, as shows a feast:
Such a Feast, as mends in length:
Such a Strength, as makes his guest.
Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a Joy, as none can move:
Such a Love, as none can part:
Such a Heart, as joyes in love.
Mary focused Religious Education Resources for May